Some PCB fab houses charge extra for having multiple designs combined in a board. They don't have to do any extra work or different processes than single design. Why do they insist on this extra charge? Some of them will waive the fee after negotiation, but this is just unnecessary hassle.
I know this is very common in the industry, but why do they care about number of customer designs? For identical board area and spec, 4 designs cost 30% more and 8 designs cost 100% more in setup. Are different versions of the same board consider as different designs?
Yes. I am sending a single set of files with matching pads and drills in all my designs. I use the same set of data for all the designs. I have 4 projects with 8 versions. I have to declare it as 1 board, or
4 designs (30% more) or 8 designs (100% more).
Yes, I am doing all the work but pay extra for it.
It usually just encourage people to find another fab house.
I am not asking them to do that. I am combining them myself with matching set of tools. If anomalies come up, I would be willing to pay more. I should not have to pay more because there are separate functional areas on the board.
In one case, I paid and submitted files. They saw different functional blocks and wanted to charge more. I told them to cancel the order and they back off. Another fab's web says that they are trying to protect jobs by charging more and forcing designers to submit multiple orders. By killing us (designers), I don't know how they can create more jobs for them.
So does that mean if you created one board with a snap line (where the functional parts *could* (but needn't) be separated, they would charge more? Sounds very subjective - and a rather prehistoric and misguided charging approach. Reminds me of the RIAA/MPAA.
Surely the cost should be based on simple quantifiable entities like: layers, holes, number of holes sizes (tools), area (of input panel), finishes (gold, soldermask, silk) and suchlike.
Who cares how many notional designs are on the board?
Managers, politicians and environmentalists: Nature's carbon buffer.
Check out BatchPCB (an offshoot of SparkFun Electronics) - they even combine multiple designs from different customers:
"You submit your PCB design, we add your design to the batch of orders. When the batch is big enough (usually about 1 week), the batch is set off for manufacture. 10 days later, the individual boards are received by us. We then split the orders up and mail your order to you."
We haven't tried them ourselves but would be interested to hear of anybody's experience.
-- Chris Burrows CFB Software Armaide: An ARM Development System for Pascal Programmers
Might help if you identify which ones have given you this problem, and to what extent.
When I am prototyping I have sent multiple designs on a single file to one fab which I no longer use, and in production I have sent two_on_a_board to PCBcart more than once and it was treated as one job, one startup charge.
Let's face it, if they have a setup charge for a first_up or changed job, they are covered. You send a proto sheet and they hit you. You send a subsequent prod job with either single designs or chaged multiples and ... they hit you.
I can only see one reason why they would do this - panelising and separation. With some fabs they set out clear router clearances for panelising, so that it is practical to do your own. Others won't do this - I suspect they are the "job-bulkers" who take everybody's small jobs and fit them onto a large panel which they then outsource to another "sheet-only" house. They figure if they re-lay your designs with the other clients' work, they might get a better fit/yield from the sheet. You can pick them when questions come back, they are always quotes from the sheet-only man. Been there, done that.
I was once trying to get a board house to fab a PWB that was only 1 x
0.5 inches and wanted a few dozen on a panel and several panels. They wanted to charge me *per board* at their minimum rate even if they didn't rout or separate the boards. Their minimum rate was $4 per!!! Needless to say I didn't use them. IIRC, there was more than one place that insisted on charging that way.